Many years ago when we adopted our first Labrador retriever, my husband, who had never had a pet before, asked the breeder who sold us the lab, “When do they settle down?”
“Oh, around ten,” she replied.
“Please,” my husband begged, “tell me you mean ten months.”
But no, she meant ten years. Labs are very energetic dogs. Don’t let that adorable little black, brown (known as chocolate) or golden puppy fool you. These dogs grow to be sixty to one hundred pounds of unbridled energy. Nevertheless, they have some wonderful attributes:
Labs are very smart and sensitive to human emotions and consequently make great assistance dogs. They can be trained to be guide dogs for the blind and companion dogs for the disabled.
- Labs are also very good with children. Their energy and playfulness make them good partners for older children.
- But even young children can enjoy close relationships with your lab with appropriate supervision. Because of their size, you never want to leave young children alone with labs or any other big dog who might accidentally knock them down.
- And labs make great watch dogs. They are very territorial and protective. The meter reader might worry about being in your yard but no one will ever sneak up on you.
- Labs love to swim. They make great companions for beach-walking or a dip in the lake.
- Labs are called retrievers for a reason. They will generally chase a ball, Frisbee or toy for hours on end. Not only will this give them lots of exercise, but you’ll find yourself getting in better shape, too.
But remember that Labs have some decided disadvantages, too.
- Labs are probably not the best pet bet if you live in a small apartment and don’t have much time to walk them or play with them.
- They can adapt to crates but left to their own devices they can be very destructive. I once had a lab puppy tear up an entire couch, arms, springs and all.
- Labs are very strong. They can pull you right off the path when a sudden squirrel catches their attention.
- Remember that love of water? Walking your lab close to a body of water can result in a surprise swim for everybody. It might be a good idea to take your new puppy to obedience training.
- Labs eat a lot. Be careful that they don’t get into food they shouldn’t eat. If your child drops a chocolate bar, the lab will scarf it up before you can pick it up.
- Labs can take their protective nature to extremes. If you have a lot of foot traffic in your neighborhood, perhaps your lab should be an indoor dog. Though they don’t usually bark for no reason, in their minds, the wind might be a reason!
The one thing everyone who adopts a lab says is that they are wonderful companions. There’s nothing so comforting as having a sweet, protective animal sleeping at your feet, waiting for you to be ready to walk or play. Overall, Labrador retrievers are a delight to own.